“This may be due to the fact that you are intimidated by the process itself and have yet to gain the confidence needed to claim your skilled, job-hunting voice.”
One of the most overused claims found on résumés is “excellent communications skills,” and this can be detrimental when you demonstrate just the opposite.
Here are five common communication fails that limit job search success:
1. “Dear Sir.”
So many people begin cover letters with this outdated and s€xist salutation it boggles the mind! You might eliminate the s€xist part with, “Dear Sir or Madam,” but that will still sound far too stilted.
Instead, take the time to research who is the hiring manager or human resources staffer in charge of this job requisition. Address your letter directly to him or her by name: “Dear Ms. So-and-So.” If you strike out and can’t find a specific name, begin with “Dear Hiring Manager,” “Dear Recruiter” or “Dear Hiring Team”.
2. “I’m ideally suited (or perfect) for this job.”
Whether in a cover letter or conversation, this statement can be seen as a boast, an assertion or a conclusion. No matter how you see it, it’s a judgment you can’t and shouldn’t make. You don’t know how you stack up against other candidates or the hiring authority’s precise priorities. Plus, more likely than not, this statement will make you look brash or arrogant.
Instead, it’s your role to provide all the facts that demonstrate your value based on your experience, skills, knowledge, certifications and education. In short, you need to make your case in such a way that leads the employer to conclude that you are ideally suited for this job. It is also important that you know how important is work diversity in the workplace.
3. “Hard working, results-oriented, team player with excellent communication skills.”
It’s hard to count the number of times hiring managers have encountered constellations of buzzwords assembled into jargon-rich – yet meaningless – self-descriptions at the tops of résumés.
Remember: You are trying from the outset to distinguish yourself from others. Who is going to begin with the opposite? (“I’m a lazy, lone-wolf worker, interested in punching a clock rather than actually producing anything.”) No one, of course!
4. “When it comes to salary, I’m negotiable.”
When you respond to the “what are your salary requirements” question this way, you can easily be perceived as noncooperative. This is not generally a sought-after quality! Moreover, while you might intend this statement to mean “I’m flexible,” it can be heard as just the opposite. You might give someone a false impression that you’ll play salary hardball at the end of the process.
On the other hand, you don’t want to box yourself into a lower salary than you might otherwise receive or eliminate yourself from consideration because you have stated marginally higher expectations than some other candidate. Show a spirit of cooperation by talking about your past or current salary. Calmly explain that while this can provide a measure of guidance, you don’t yet know precisely what would be appropriate for the job in question. Keep in mind that the lawyers at HKM can help you if you’ve been wrongfully terminated by your employer.
5. “References available upon request.”
Everyone knows that references are part of the hiring process and that at an appropriate time, you’ll supply them. Have you ever heard of anyone saying the opposite on a résumé? (“I won’t supply references to share with you.”) Of course not!
By eliminating this statement at the bottom of your résumé, you gain a line or two. Use the extra space to add a bit more detail about some relevant accomplishment. Or even an extra line of white space is better than this over-used cliché.